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Look for the Helpers

Whenever something awful happens in this world (which is WAY too often these days), I always try to remind myself of the Mr. Rogers quote that everyone posts all over social media: “look for the helpers”. I’d like to say that it’s because I’m such a good Christian that I can always see God’s work in everything, but the truth is that I have to find the one semblance of positivity in these situations to keep from hating everyone.

Pre-kid Sara analyzed these terrible events purely with a cop mentality. Basically, who was the bad guy (or girl), what was his motive, is he [hopefully] dead now, how did the officers handle the situation, are they all ok, what would I have done if I was there? Now that I have children, my entire series of questions has been altered. I still wonder about all of those things, but I also wonder how the parents of the victims feel. I can feel their pain and their loss and it’s suffocating. I wonder how relieved (or guilty) the parents of the survivors feel. I wonder if I had been there with my children, would I have immediately brought them to safety and gotten the hell out of dodge to protect my family, or would I have stayed to help as much as possible?

When these things happen, there’s always a five-step program that people on social media think they’re required to follow. 1) “Prayers for Vegas” 2) Why didn’t anyone prevent this? 3) Why is the president doing/not doing this/that? 4) It’s time to ban guns! 5) Political bs, political bs, political bs. The only one I’m going to agree with here is number one. Prayer puts angels to flight and I believe that this country could use a whole lot more of it. As far as the rest goes, all it does is divide us. This horrific thing just happened to our people and all we can do is point fingers, lay blame and turn against each other. We start yelling at “incompetent” hotel employees for not noticing a suitcase full of guns. I mean, say that out loud, friends. Just so you can hear how silly it sounds. The most ridiculous part is that if we passed a law that all luggage entering hotels needs to be searched, the outrage would pour out across the country.

We start blaming President Trump, saying this is somehow his fault. If he had only done something, this could’ve all somehow been prevented. What would you like him to have done? Cure every American’s mental illness to prevent them from going mad and committing heinous crimes? If Hillary was president, this would’ve somehow not happened?

Then we start the epic gun law debates on our facebook walls. Here’s where people go nuts and start the de-friending. “If guns were illegal this wouldn’t have happened!” or “Everyone should be allowed to own any guns they want!” Do we all really not see that there is a VAST in between here?? No, it absolutely should not be easy for someone to buy guns. There should be applications, permits, background checks and a mental stability test (in my opinion). With the Las Vegas shooter (I will NOT state his name, because I will NOT remember his name) the unfortunate truth is that he had over 40 guns because Nevada has pretty lax gun laws. But on the other end of the argument, if someone wants to commit a crime, guess what? They will get a gun regardless of any laws or procedures in place. The crazy thing about criminals is that they don’t care about laws. Do I think someone who passes the application, checks and tests (if these procedures were actually in place) should be allowed to own 40+ guns? Absolutely. If they’ve passed everything and obtained them legally, who am I to put a limit on the number they can have?

And then finally we reach number 5, which is a plethora of politically-charged rants that push us all further and further apart and closer and closer to hate. We all say over and over again, “look for the helpers”, but that includes within you. Look for the part of you that is sick of the division. How quickly we move from the unity of “pray for Las Vegas” to “democrats this and republicans that”. Do you think the parents of those victims give a crap about their child’s political affiliation (or yours, for that matter)? The only thing they can think is that they wish they had their child back. Or they’re on their knees praying that their child recovers. Can’t we all just agree that it was an awful thing that happened and that we should all help as much as possible? Donate your blood, donate your money, donate your time. I’m sure some people believe their opinion is the most important thing they can give, but how about we start giving something worthy.

People today feel the need to take sides and hate anyone who isn’t on that side. We all have to picket and protest and hold up our signs and scream about our first amendment rights to do so. And God forbid anyone disagrees with you, then they’re infringing on your first amendment rights. Newsflash: the first amendment gives you protection from the government for anything you might say. It does NOT give you protection from society. Society has every right to ostracize you for your words and no laws will be broken when they do it. You have the right to speak, but you do not have the right to be heard. So why not say something that is guaranteed to make you heard? Wondering what that is? Ask Mr. Rogers.


PaleO-MG Shut Up About It

Remember as a kid when you could eat whatever you wanted and never worry about the health ramifications? I guess if you have a peanut allergy or something, that doesn’t really apply to you…but you know what I mean. Those were the days….

After 24 years of eating and living how I wanted, I discovered in 2009 that I have an underactive thyroid condition, better known as Hypothyroidism. To my great disappointment- this malady does not give me any superpowers. It’s quite the opposite actually; unless falling asleep on command can get me a cape and a cool disguise. Being exhausted is how I found out I have Hypothyroidism; I was uncontrollably tired all of the time. I would literally be driving down the highway and fall asleep at the wheel. Doctors kept trying to tell me it was depression until finally someone tested my thyroid and saw that the numbers were very low. They immediately put me on Synthroid (a thyroid hormone replacement) and I eventually started to feel better.

I stayed on a fairly consistent dosage for almost six years until I became pregnant with my second daughter. All throughout my first pregnancy, the doctors never changed my dosage. With Leya, however, they almost tripled it during my pregnancy. After I gave birth, they didn’t bother checking my levels again for over six months. During this time, I was taking WAY too much of the supplement and it was causing me to have heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia and serious “brain fog”. Even after they leveled out my dosage, I was still feeling some of those symptoms.

I started reading up on Hypothyroidism and other treatment options; I mean, if I was going to be an insomniac, I might as well learn something. Every bit of information I found was completely contradictory. One site said Synthroid is the only safe option while others said Synthroid is the least safe option. Take prescriptions…no, don’t take prescriptions. Take all-natural supplements…no, don’t take all-natural supplements–unless you want a tumor the size of your fist on your thyroid gland. It gets exhausting wondering if you should trust all-natural remedies that don’t offer specific dosages or if you should trust an endocrinologist who gets paid by big pharmaceutical companies to push certain medicines. Too bad it’s not exhausting enough to help me get over my insomnia, right?

Back in April of this year I decided to change my diet entirely to see if that would help. I completely eliminated gluten, soy and dairy and pushed it a little further into the “paleo” zone and took out most starches as well (aside from the occasional sweet potatoes). So, I basically eat meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts. No, it’s not easy. Yes, it does suck at times. But it’s been worth it: I’ve felt a huge difference in my overall health and workout endurance, and the “brain fog” and anxiety have also reduced significantly.

As trendy and obnoxious as the paleo diet sounds, I can honestly say that I won’t go back to a “regular” diet after feeling the changes in my strength and energy. I’m not the type of person to enter a party and be like “Hi, I’m Sara. I eat paleo”, and I, too, laugh at the vegan and Crossfit type jokes (even though I do a lot of Crossfit style workouts myself). But if I believe something can help other people, I’ll spread the word just in case someone needs to hear it.

I don’t know how bread, pasta, potatoes and sugars affect people with normally functioning thyroids, but my body just does not seem to be able to process them. On my old “eat whatever, whenever” d I felt lethargic and, despite the diet’s name, was for some reason always hungry. At almost every meal, I would have a weird and relatively alarming issue where my food would get stuck right at the base of my throat (where the thyroid gland just happens to be) and I would feel like I was choking. I would have to walk around the room to try and get gravity to do its job until I would finally feel the food leave my throat and go down my esophagus. And sometimes I would just end up vomiting. Charming, right? I bet you can’t wait to come over for our next dinner party.

On my current diet I can workout harder and longer, my joints have stopped aching, I no longer choke at every meal and I have way more energy to chase the kids around. I still have a lot of work to do with leveling out my thyroid medication, but changing my diet was a huge step in the right direction!

I definitely have moments when I miss bread (sooo much), but I don’t miss how it made me feel. I’m all about the “treat yo-self” mentality, but not at the cost of my health. If you’ve been considering a diet change, I’d be happy to share my favorite (and most cost effective!) recipes, just shoot me a message! I’ll go ahead and share my absolute favorite breakfast bar recipe:

Mix all of these ingredients together, stick them in a 13×9 baking dish and heat it for about 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven:

1 cup of nut butter (I use sunflower butter; it’s a little bit cheaper than almond butter and tastes great!)

1 egg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup raw honey (use some from a local farm

for added health/allergy benefits!)

1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup chopped up mixed nuts (I use cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans)

And you can even add in some dark chocolate chips if you’d like! (make sure they’re at least 70% cocoa to keep them on the healthier side)

It’s super delicious for breakfast and as a snack; I actually prefer it to muffins or danishes (or other sweet breakfast options)…and I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Like if it was a real thing and not just an expression, it’d be the size of my face.

Keep in mind, there is no one diet that works for everyone! Sometimes you have to try a few to see what works. Feel free to comment with any tips or personal experiences!

Also feel free to comment if you’d like to hire me to do party tricks for your next event. “And now here’s Sara with the swollen thyroid gland! Will her food go down or come back up?? Watch and see!” It’s no “Four-Legged Girl from Texas”, but my rates are cheap.


Today Was A Good Day

Today I read my kids 8 books. A couple of them multiple times. I made them homemade paleo shepherds pie. I played in rain puddles with them. I did their laundry and got on my hands and knees to scrub the floors so they’d have a clean place to play. I cuddled them, bathed them and taught them. Everything was going so well. I even had the audacity to be like, “man, these kids have it made.”

Then it happened. The one thing that comes and tries to steal your mom joy. That one moment when you let your guard down and your toddler ruins everything. (Kidding, of course.   Kinda.)

At the end of the night when Lina was cleaning up her toys, she pulled an end table over and it landed on Leya’s noggin. The same table I’ve told her to get off of more times than I can count. And just like that, all of my day’s accomplishments fly straight out the freaking window.

I run towards the girls and of course stub my toe on the way, splitting it wide open. Because, go big or go home, am I right? The edge of the table split Leya’s head open, so between that and my foot, there’s freaking blood everywhere. Leya’s screaming ’cause she’s hurt, Lina’s screaming ’cause she’s about 96% sure she just murdered her mom and sister, and I’m screaming ’cause my foot is missing pieces and my poor little baby is hurt.

It looks like a really lame episode of Dexter happened in my dining room.

I do the annoying friend thing and start sending pictures of Leya’s boo-boo to my nurse friends to ask about survival rates, and then call my husband (crying of course)…because why not let everyone join my panic party? And for a split second, I let myself believe that this was all my fault and that I should have somehow prevented it.

Just like every other parent, I beat myself up about the “should haves”. I “should have” moved that table after the 20th time I told Lina to stop climbing on it. I “should have” been close enough to catch the table. I “should have” used my superpowers to stretch my arm 15 feet to block Leya’s head.

Realistically, sh*t happens. ESPECIALLY when there are kids involved. I mean literally and figuratively, there is just sh*t everywhere, all the time.

But for every crap situation, there are a hundred great ones.

My girls may get hurt at times, they may get sick, they may get yelled at–but they never question how much they’re cared for. Just because 1% of our day wasn’t great, that doesn’t mean the other 99% goes out the window. We just have to clean the wound, smear on some neosporin and move on.

Leya stopped crying and bleeding after a few seconds and it took Lina even less time than that to stop caring. Shocking, I know.

There are going to be days when you feed your kids three square meals, they mind their manners the entire day and you teach them how to build rockets and read sheet music. I just laughed out loud, too, don’t worry. Then there will be days when they watch 176 episodes of VeggieTales and eat nothing but goldfish and fruit snacks.

And then there will be the in-between days like today when you think you’re doing so well and everything falls apart. You can let it all burn to the ground because of one silly thing which, by the way,  could have been MUCH worse, or you can just move on. I cleaned the wounds, cleaned the mess, comforted my girls and threw the table down the basement stairs.

Today was a good day because I let it go.

P.S. You’re welcome for getting Elsa’s voice stuck in your head for the rest of the week.

Self-Deprecating or Self-Conscious?

Anyone who’s met me knows that my humor has a tendency to be quite self-deprecating. It’s partly because I don’t take myself very seriously, and partly because I know that if I make fun of myself, it won’t bother me when other people do. I was never “cool” in school, so maybe it stems back to those years of my life, who knows. I’m not a therapist nor do I believe I have some deep-rooted issue that causes me to laugh at myself for being 13 feet tall. I try to find humor in everything, myself included. That being said, I’ve decided I need to make sure my daughters see it as humor and not as low self-esteem. Where do I find the line between not taking myself too seriously and putting myself down?

No matter what I may be thinking or how I’m feeling, I make a point to never “shame” myself in front of my daughters. Especially not about my shape or looks.  I don’t want them ever thinking that’s where their value comes from. Are they stunningly beautiful girls? Absolutely. (I’m not a biased mother at all). But they are SO much more than that. Adelina has the most amazing courage sometimes. If she thinks someone is being bullied (whether it’s on TV or in person) she starts roaring like a lion at the offender to scare them away. Of course on the other hand she’s afraid of fuzzies, but maybe she knows something about them that we don’t. Perhaps one day she’ll win the Nobel Prize for discovering that all of the fuzzies on the ground have been slowly killing us all.

And Vileya, my God that girl. She is by far the most persistent human being I’ve ever met. If you tell her no, she doesn’t whine or cry. She simply does not accept no as an answer. If I tell her to stop playing with the curtains and carry her over the baby gate and into a different room, she’ll simply walk to the gate, find a way to climb over it and get right back to those curtains.

THOSE are the things they will be defined by. Their courage, perseverance, strength, kindness, intelligence and faith. Their beauty will go beyond their looks. And they, too, will laugh at themselves and not take life too seriously. If someone pokes fun of Lina’s mullet, I want her to nickname herself “Billy Ray” and be able to laugh with them at how silly it is. If someone laughs at how Leya walks like a cowboy, I want her to throw on some spurs and laugh along.

I want them to know that their bodies are built a certain way to make them great at specific things, and that everyone’s abilities differ. Same with their minds. They may understand things or think differently than everyone, but that’s because God gives everyone a different purpose. We spend so much time these days (mainly thanks to social media) comparing every aspect of our lives to others. I may see a picture of a 5’4″, 115 pound girl on Facebook and wish that I was petite, but guess what? I would never be able to do the things I can do now with that stature…and she’s capable of things that I could never do! I can reach the top of the kitchen cabinets and she can have a ton of legroom during a flight.

Yes, my personality can be self-deprecating at times, and maybe I was made with thick skin to help me with my career in law enforcement. Other people are wonderful, positive rays of sunshine because that’s what helps them with their career or life in general. I mean, can you imagine me as a kindergarten teacher? “Little Joey, if you get that snotty nose near me again, I’m going to punt you through the window,” probably wouldn’t go over very well during a parent-teacher conference.

My point is that we are all created for our very own, specific purpose, and that is what I will raise my children to believe. No matter how you’re built or how you think, be thankful for the things that you’re capable of. And keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to laugh at yourself for not being capable of everything.

Lina and Leya will know that they were put here for their own unique purpose. Maybe they’re in the 98th percentile for height because they’re going to accomplish amazing tall-girl things! Like perhaps designing an Amazonian clothing line so all of our pants can stop fitting like capris. A tall mom can dream.

I love you, beautiful wife. 

“Goodnight Lina, I love you,” I said, kissing her on the cheek.

“Goodnight, mommy. I love you, beautiful wife,” she replied.

My first reaction was to laugh, simply because my daughter calling me her wife is a funny concept. After thinking about it though, my response was to cry. Don’t worry, it wasn’t an ugly Kim Kardashian cry, it was just a tear or two.

I’m always aware that I have to be careful of what I say in front of our children; not only will they repeat it, but they’re also learning from it. They’re learning how to react if something inconveniences them, like when our DirecTv remote seems to need new batteries every 13 minutes. As badly as I may want to damn it to the pits of hell, I try to take a deep breath and place it calmly on the coffee table. Is that how I react every time? Please. (Insert eye-roll emoji here). But I do try. Aaron is WAY better at controlling his reactions than I am. Kids are far more perceptive than we give them credit for; they feel what we feel when we say something is good or bad and they burn it into their little memory. And most of all, they’re learning how to treat others and how to expect to be treated.

In our household, Lina repeats just about everything her daddy says. Whether it’s a curse word (like when she screams “SH*T” in the grocery store), or life lessons such as, “be patient”. He’s her hero and favorite “octopus” aka officer. Luckily, she doesn’t repeat mommy that much, aside from the occasional, “No, mommy. Don’t talk back.”

Out of the two of us, I am by far the more volatile spouse. I often lack a filter and realize after I’ve already spoken that some things are probably better left unsaid (which is why we’re lucky that Lina doesn’t always repeat me). Sometimes when Aaron asks me a question, I’ll answer, “nice or honest?” and he knows I’m either about to give a polite lie or drop a painful truth bomb. Even so, after 7 years of waking up beside the same, sometimes insensitive, woman–except for the nights that our kids take over our bed…ok I’m done lying, that’s every night–he still says “I love you, beautiful wife”. Enough times for a toddler to catch on to the entire phrase. Our girls will look at their father as a standard against which they will judge all men, and in case you haven’t caught on yet, the bar is set high, future boyfriends.

There are a lot of ways we wish we could be better for our kids, but they will always know how much their parents love each other. We may give them ice cream at ten o’clock at night, call them ‘dude’, watch The Walking Dead when they’re not distracted enough and throw out the occasional curse word in front of them, but we also read to them everyday, teach them about God’s love, chase them around the playground and love them and each other fiercely.

Sometimes when I feel like we could be doing so much better as parents, Lina says, “I love you, beautiful wife” and I’m reminded that we could be doing a heck of a lot worse.

And then other times she says, “JUST GIVE ME A DAMN MINUTE, MOMMY” and I’m also reminded that we can always be better…

When to Fight Back

A cool breeze, a beautiful view of the water, children laughing and playing…a Saturday at the park sounds pretty delightful, right? Wrong. Any parent knows that going to the park only sounds good in theory. “I’ll let them run around and wear themselves out, then they’ll nap for 14 hours straight and I can remember what silence sounds like.” Then you get there and see that every other parent in town had the same idea.

We pulled up around noon, I had Vileya strapped to my chest in the Baby Bjorn (God knows if I put her down, she’ll eat 6 rocks, 32 bugs, 17 pounds of grass, dirt and sand and probably a cigarette butt or four), and Adelina is doing her best to release her hand from my grip so she can run full-tilt toward the playground. As we approach, I see very few children Lina’s age. “No big deal,” I tell myself. “She needs to learn to play with kids of all ages.”…Except kids of all ages have no idea how to play with kids of all ages…very few understand “hey, they’re younger than me, I’ll play accordingly” (LINA INCLUDED). I’ll be the first to admit that my toddler can be an egomaniacal monster who’s out for blood. Especially when dealing with her baby sister. Because we recognize this, we are doing our best to teach her to be kind. I don’t necessarily believe that she HAS to share with everyone, however I do believe she needs to be kind.

So, we finally make the trek from the parking lot to the playground–I’m sweating profusely already, just so you know–and Lina immediately runs for the sandbox. I call out to her to be polite and she gives me a “why are you even still here” nod as she runs along. There’s a young boy playing in there, roughly five years old, and I immediately notice there is only one shovel. Lina reaches to snatch it out of his hand but makes eye contact with me first. My raised eyebrows and pursed lips stop her in her tracks and she politely asks him, “can I have it please?” The boy says no and keeps playing. That is absolutely and perfectly fine. It belongs to him and he has every right to tell her no, he owes her nothing. Luckily Lina moves on and amuses herself by carrying handfuls of sand to place underneath a nearby bench. Because why build sand castles and dig for treasure when you can be a human bulldozer.

Sandbox boy’s mom is sitting near me and is playing on her phone. No biggy. It’s a fenced in playground and we need to take our free moments as we get them. A few times now, sandbox boy has flung sand in Lina’s direction and I instructed her to brush it off and continue playing. I know sandbox boy’s mama has heard me at this point because she’s 3 feet from me and my voice is one of those startlingly loud ones that kind of makes you feel uncomfortable. At this point, sandbox boy scoops up a big shovel-full of sand and straight up chucks it at Lina. I lean forward but stay seated…I want to give her a chance to handle the situation on her own. She loudly says, “please stop!” But he doesn’t. He scoops another shovel-full and tosses it at her. Again, “Stop!” This happens one final time before Lina takes matters into her own hands. She pulls her little fist back and decks him in the chest. Proper form and all. Sandbox boy falls on his tush and starts crying. I walk over and pick up Lina and ask if she’s ok. She says, “sorry, mommy”, and I explain that no apology is necessary. I help sandbox boy up and make sure he’s alright. He’s going on and on about how Lina hit him and is quite taken aback when I tell him that I know and that he had it coming. I explained to him that what he was doing wasn’t nice and that she asked him repeatedly to stop.

Let it be known, his mom is still mentally MIA.

I asked him his name and asked how he would feel if someone was throwing sand at him. He apologized, they hugged it out and split a pack of fruit snacks. Hopefully he’s not allergic, seeing as how his mom won’t notice in time to bring over an EpiPen. They said their goodbyes, I grabbed our things and we walked over to the fountain so Lina could throw coins in, aka toss them all in at once and then start crying when there aren’t any left. No, you may not climb in and retrieve the coins for round two.

Bottom line, I do not condone hitting people for no reason. And no, violence is not always the answer. We may have taught Lina proper hitting techniques but have always reiterated that you never hit people without just cause. YOU DO NOT BULLY PEOPLE. There are few things I despise more than a bully.

That being said, you DO defend yourself and others. Don’t start a fight but end it. Don’t hit first but hit the hardest. You know, all of those sayings that normal people teach their almost three-year olds. Could she have run away and tattled to me? Sure. As an adult, I very much appreciate when someone approaches me directly if they have an issue with me. Tattling isn’t always the answer either. I say try to solve the problem on your own and if that doesn’t work, then it’s time to go over their head.

Even though he wasn’t going about it the right way, all sandbox boy wanted was some attention. I’m pretty sure Lina fell in love with his bad-boy ways and mohawk haircut. That issue will be revisited in future posts, I’m sure.

We’re all misunderstood in our own ways, am I right?

Needless to say, my mom-mobile now has more sand in it than the damn Sahara.

It’s official!!

Hi, everyone! I am SO excited to finally be starting a blog! This is going to be a blast, I promise. So, I’ll start with a little background to get the ball rolling! As some of you may know, I was a police officer in Charlotte, NC for roughly 8.5 years and have been a work-at-home mom for the last [almost] three years. That makes me sound a lot older than I am. My popping hips and knees, my desire to fall asleep while watching C-Span and my affinity for fiber also make me sound a lot older than I am. In reality I’m 32 years old and I’m starting my first blog! “From Ma’am To Wahm” brings you from my former life as a cop (the Ma’am part) to my current life as a…well, you guessed it, “WAHM” (Work at home mom, for those of you who don’t habla hip lingo) I’ll be posting about everything from my precious, demon-spawn children, the crazy/wonderful dynamic between my husband and I (he’s still a cop…and sometimes I forget I’m not), my fitness lifestyle, my hypothyroidism and dietary changes and SO much more. You can laugh at my pain, empathize with my lack of sanity and maybe even learn something! This is guaranteed to be informative and will at the very least give you a good laugh. Looking forward to my first actual post!!